Dwarka Expressway, also called the Northern Peripheral Road (NPR), is an 18km long, 150m wide stretch which will decongest traffic between Delhi and Gurgaon once completed. It is the third direct connection between Delhi and Gurgaon, after NH8 and Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road. The Expressway is expected to reduce travel time between West Delhi and Gurgaon by about 40 per cent and might well be considered the lifeline for the future real estate development in the area.
With real estate worth thousands of crores at stake, developers and investors have been waiting for the Dwarka Expressway project to be completed for seven years. Announced in 2007, this project had been mired in litigation due to land acquisition issues. Let’s take a look at the reasons for the delay and the current status of the Expressway and the surrounding realty.
Dispute over alignment of the expressway
The area along the Expressway garnered tremendous real estate attention soon after the project was announced owing to its proximity to the international airport and easy access to both Delhi and Gurgaon. Major real estate players launched residential projects along the proposed stretch even before land acquisition for the expressway had been completed. Problems arose when about 200 people went to court challenging the land acquisition for the expressway.
According to Sanjay Sharma, MD, QuBREX, a Gurgaon based real estate consultancy, “The major reason for the delay was the arbitrary alignment of the Expressway.” The Expressway’s route was such that it would pass through inhabited areas such as New Palam Vihar, a residential colony, instead of the empty land nearby. The residents of the colony demanded that the alignment be changed to avoid the demolition of hundreds of homes. “If only the route had been about half a kilometre to the right, the colony would have remained unaffected” says Sharma.
The authorities were asked to consider an alternate alignment in order to minimise the number of houses affected. After several petitions and hearings, the court announced that the families who would have to give up their homes be adequately compensated with alternate land as well as money for construction of new homes. However, the issue dragged on as the residents were not satisfied with the rehabilitation offers. The land and compensation offered was reportedly inadequate and inconveniently located in remote areas. It was only about six months ago that the developers and residents reached a satisfactory agreement.
Unacquired patches of land
However, Sharma adds that the problems are not entirely over. The acquired land is not a complete stretch yet as there are still small patches which are yet to be acquired. Sharma informs us that there is a patch of land on the Delhi side of the route which needs to be acquired in order to connect the Expressway with Delhi. The landowners are demanding Rs 40 crore per acre and there is about 25 acres of land to be acquired. However, raising another Rs 1,000 crore is going to be difficult for the authorities. Earlier this month, officials of the Haryana government and Delhi Development Authority held a meeting to discuss this issue. Apparently, this 1.8km unacquired land is the last hurdle left before work on the expressway is completed.
It must be remembered that the issue is only out of the legal troubles. The construction will be completed only after the affected families have been rehabilitated and the structures in the path of the expressway demolished.
Investors and developers expect government to speed up the infrastructural development of the area soon. According to Sanjay Sharma, the area needs to develop basic amenities like power and water. The roads in the area are also not in very good conditions.
Harinder Dhillon, Senior Vice President (Sales & Marketing), Raheja Developers agrees and adds, “There is a huge inventory pile up in the area because of the lack of basic amenities like water and power. Arrangements are being made by respective developers but there is no respite from the government for the same.” Although some developers like Raheja have started giving possession to the buyers, it will be some years before the area becomes comfortably liveable.
Currently, there are more than 100 residential projects in various stages of construction in the area but the stretched out litigation and infrastructural challenges have delayed completion and possessions. Dipakk Vadehra, Co-Founder, Connexions Abroad informs us that the early investors in the area have reaped tremendous profit as properties which cost Rs 2,275 per sq ft between 2007 and 2011 are now priced around Rs 5,600 per sq ft. However, those who entered the market after 2013 are yet to see much growth in their property value, probably due to the stalled construction and ignored infrastructure. Currently the average capital value varies from Rs 5,000 – Rs 9,000 per sq ft as per data from 99acres. It remains to be seen which direction the price graph moves in the coming days. Though the authorities are trying to expedite the project, realty along the Expressway will reach its true potential only when it seamlessly connects Delhi and Gurgaon with sound infrastructure for the residents.